Last night our family dog, Murphy, went to be with Jesus.
What a surreal thing to type. She was a huge part of our lives for 12 years. Such a little, neurotic thing, that Papillon. She rolled on her food, barked at birds (from the safety of the living room, of course), loved chasing the ball and was just…there. She was always there, always loving, always ready to play.
We mourn her.
And yet there is something precious in the midst of the tears. When we brought her home all those years ago, I was still in high school. It was just the four of us: Dad, Mom, Ben and me. Last night, Chris had dinner with his family and I wasn’t feeling up to attending, so it was just the four of us again. We were together when she came into our lives and we were together when she left. There is a sense of rightness in that.
I would love it if she were here now, but I am inexpressibly thankful that I got to be there to pet and hold her one last time.
This morning I stood in the shower, tears and the spray of water mingling. I was tempted to close myself off from the sorrow, tempted to start thinking that loving isn’t worth the pain that comes with it. I’ve been struggling against that cynicism quite a lot lately. The part of me that sees only darkness tends to view life as one agonizing, lonely march.
God heard that.
As I drove to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, I listened to a sermon on the radio. The pastor’s message focused on one small verse in John:
Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. – 1:3 (NKJV)
I have heard and read this verse innumerable times, but it’s full meaning blossomed today.
The mountains that I can see from my front windows are there because God wanted them to be there. The seemingly endless stretches of prairie were positioned just so by His hands. He decided that the sky would be blue, that water would rush over piles of rocks, that tulips would peek through snow to herald the coming of spring. He gave the birds their song, the grass its color, the clouds their form.
He made it all. Everything.
He made it for a reason.
The seasons of life seem all to short. I can close my eyes and see my brother and I building steps out of pillows so that tiny little puppy could scramble up onto the couch. Before any of us had a chance to think about it, she had fulfilled her purpose and it was time for her to be with her Maker – for she, too, was made by Him and with reason.
This life is very hard. It can be excruciatingly painful. There are days when staying in bed seems like the only option. God knows that. He really does. And when we mourn and start to think that being open to friendship and love – whether from a human or an animal – just isn’t worth it anymore, He blesses us with a beautiful, sunny day. We hear the laughter of children, we see buds on the trees, our taste buds tingle with chocolate. Just when we want to chuck it all, He gives us a reason to smile. To hope.
Even as we cry.
I have been richly, supremely blessed by Murphy. In the back of my mind, I know that my own sweet doggies won’t always drive me nuts with their barking or amuse me with their antics. I will cry over them just as I cry for her today. As I get older, I will mourn much bigger, deeper losses. But I choose not to dwell on that. Instead, I thank God that life is so much more than pain. I thank Him for each of the people who have walked the path with me, even if only for awhile. I thank Him for His provision in meeting all my needs. I thank Him for the promise of flowers soon in bloom.
I thank Him for holding me so tenderly.
And I am amazed at the wonder of it all.